Eli Lilly & Co. will pay $62 million to resolve claims relating to the marketing and promotion of its anti-psychotic drug Zyprexa to patients who did not have schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, its only approved uses. The settlement ends an 18-month investigation led by the offices of the attorneys general of Illinois and Oregon, which contended that Lilly had violated consumer protection laws by urging doctors to prescribe Zyprexa to patients who did not need it. The payments will be divided between 33 states, including Alabama.
Under the terms of the settlement, Zyprexa will continue to be available through Medicare programs in all states. Predictability, Lilly says it didn’t break any laws. Also, as a part of the settlement, the company also agreed to provide the states’ attorneys general with information about the compensation it paid to health care professionals for promotional speaking or consulting regarding Zyprexa. Lilly has been sued by 11 other states and those cases are not included in this settlement.
The states’ investigations center on Lilly’s marketing of Zyprexa, a potent brain tranquilizer that calms the hallucinations associated with schizophrenia and bipolar mania. Internal Lilly documents and e-mail messages appear to show that the company marketed it for patients with dementia and milder forms of bipolar disorder, which is a violation of federal law. Zyprexa can cause severe weight gain and an increase in blood sugar in many patients and is more likely to cause diabetes than most other medicines for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, according to the American Diabetes Association.
Once the FDA approves a drug for sale, doctors can prescribe it for whatever disease they see fit because the regulatory agency does not regulate the practice of medicine. But pharmaceutical companies can market and advertise their medicines only for the uses specified on the drug’s label. Lilly’s deceptive marketing practices were illegal and highly dangerous. The pharmaceutical industry must be made to understand that consumer fraud is something that won’t be tolerated in this country.
Source: Associated Press and New York Times
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